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Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Archive for Jill’s Blog

As the number of Americans who work from home continues to grow, the home office is replacing the workplace for many workers and small business owners. In 2016, 43 percent of employed Americans worked at least some of the time from home, a Gallup poll reports. Within the next 10 years, hiring managers anticipate that 38 percent of workers will work mainly from home, Upwork research shows.

When you work from home, the safety and security policies your employer would normally handle become your responsibility. Whereas a traditional employer may be required by law to follow safety and security procedures, it’s easy for a home worker to forget these essentials. Here are three important steps you should take to protect your home office.

Create an Ergonomic Home Work Station

Some of the worst health hazards in the workplace are easy to overlook. Uncomfortable chairs, computer screens set too low and poorly positioned keyboards and mouse pads can lead to conditions such as back pain, neck strain, and sore wrists and elbows. Circadian Technologies research has found that back pain plagues 30 percent of male workers and 40 percent of female workers, while wrist pain bothers 16 percent of male workers and 27 percent of female workers.

To avoid ergonomic injuries, home workers should work in a location where their chair and monitor can be adjusted to a comfortable height. Hands should be placed in a position where they can rest comfortably on the keyboard and not reaching in an upward position. This means home workers who type frequently should use desktop computers instead of laptops or tablets.

Take Fire Safety Precautions

Traditional employers must follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations to prevent fires. Home workers are less likely to have a fire prevention plan. Only one in three American households have designed and practiced a fire escape plan, a National Fire Protection Association plan states.

To guard against the risk of fire, home workers should take basic fire safety measures, advises the National Safety Council. Work spaces should be kept clear of trash piles and flammable liquids, and radiators and portable heaters should be kept at a safe distance from flammable items. Smoke detectors should be maintained in working order, and fire extinguishers should be charged and kept on hand.

All walkways and doors should be kept clear of obstructions, and work areas should ideally have more than one exit route available. Home workers and their families should know which exits to use in the event of a fire and should practice using them.

Enact Physical Security Measures

Physical security is another responsibility traditionally shouldered by employers that home workers are tasked to take up. Both your office equipment and your personal property are at risk when you work from home. Nearly one in 10 U.S. households experienced at least one property crime in 2016, Justice Department data shows.

To deter burglars, make your home look like it’s occupied at all times. Place lights, radios and TVs on automatic timers to go on when you’re not home, and always park your car in the garage with the door shut rather than outside so that burglars scoping out your house don’t get the idea that no car in your driveway means you’re not home. If you have a second car, leaving it parked in the driveway will reinforce the impression that you’re home. Clear away any bushes or other obstructions burglars might use for concealment, and set up motion sensors to automatically turn on lights if an intruder enters your yard at night.

Prominently displaying a security camera can also deter burglars by letting them know they’re being monitored. Today’s best security camera system options come in both wired and wire-free varieties. The best wire-free, battery powered security cameras are equipped with high-capacity lithium batteries and only record when activated by motion, making them a practical and effective option. These systems can also send motion-activated push notifications straight to your smartphone, giving you time to respond appropriately while you’re at home or away. Read More→

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Improving your personal finances in this day and age can be difficult. The cost of living is expensive. But there are ways to see a better bank balance at the end of the month if you make some small changes to your lifestyle. You don’t have to cut back on the things you need; you just have to think of smarter ways to buy them. You also need to look for non-essential expenditures that you can cut. Here’s some advice on improving your personal finances.

 

Saving money at home.

If you want to improve your personal finances then you should start by saving money in your household. Running a home can be expensive. For starters, you might want to reduce your monthly utility bill by creating a more energy-efficient household. You could get thicker glazing to better insulate the house, for instance; that’ll reduce heat loss. Take a look at your monthly bills and see if there are other ways to spend less on the necessities without compromising. A monthly budget will help with this.

 

You might even want to cancel your cable subscription if you barely watch TV anymore. After all, most of us watch the shows we like on Netflix or Amazon. You’re spending all that money on a subscription with your internet provider every month, and you might be spending a fair amount of money on streaming websites. Why spend even more money on cable if you’re not using it? Saving money at home is about making a clear budget that tracks your spending. If you see an expenditure that’s unnecessary then you should cut it out of your life. That’s how you’ll start to see a better bank balance at the end of the month.

 

Saving money on your car.

You should also look for ways in which you could save money on your car. After all, this is probably one of the most expensive assets you own. For starters, self-maintenance is a good way to keep it in shape. If you want to avoid costly repairs then you should clean your car frequently to prevent rust and check the tire pressure before hitting the road. You could also save money on your car insurance by opting for a provider who lets you pay by the mile rather than paying for an excessive insurance premium that you don’t need. You might want to look into metromile rates if you’re interested in this. It’s much more cost-effective to pay for coverage that accounts for the extent to which you use your car.

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Consumers like to feel special – like they’re being singled out as valued and interesting customers. This is unsurprising in a world in which, until the recent rise of targeted advertising, customers have been treated as if they’re one whole mass with the same tastes and the same personalities. If personalization is something you feel would benefit your customers, perhaps inspiring them to return to do business with you or enhancing your reputation through feedbacks or reviews, then take a look at the following four tips which point towards enhanced customer personalization.

 

Account Management

Each customer that comes to your business has their own concerns, their own priorities, and their own way in which they would prefer to interact with a business. By managing to tailor your communications with each and every customer to their unique style of interaction and expectations of business, youll be personalizing their experience with your company. The best way to do this is through account management, with each customer or client assigned to a manager who deals with all the interaction from that particular person, which sets up a personalized relationship that can grow organically instead of one bounced between call center staff.

 

Marketing

As mentioned above, targeted marketing is a new and innovative way of personalizing the content that you share with potential and existing customers in order to show them the products and services that best apply to them, in a style and form of advertisement that, again, is most applicable to the individual in question. By using digital marketing strategies such as this, youll help to offer a degree of personalization to your customers thatll lead to enhanced business opportunities for both yourself and your customers.


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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor blogger

Our country, so it seems, runs on choice. The more choices we have, the better we like it.

Most people in America pride themselves on the ability to make their own choices.

“Freedom of Choice,” is the cry you hear all around our country these days. Yet, most people do not have the freedom of choice they think they have. Somebody is influencing the choices they make without them realizing they are being influenced.

That is called marketing.

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I were watching television the other night, trying to watch a favorite TV program. Finally, from an end of the room that was not my end, came an exasperated sigh. I tried to ignore it, but you know how that works.

The exasperation seemed to accelerate and I knew that if I did not acknowledge it in some way, well, I think you know what would happen.

It was in the middle of some commercial and so I turned to her and said, “What’s got you in such pain tonight?” At her age, I did not know if there was some medical something or other going on.

“These commercials,” she moaned so painfully, “I can’t stand all these commercials!”

I must say I was a little bummed out about all the commercials myself. I think every one-hour program is devoted to 30 minutes of commercials. Most of those commercials are for things I have no interest in. Or, they are played at a very inappropriate time.

It never fails if we are having our supper while watching television, there are 79 commercials for diarrhea. Is this really a major problem in our country today?

Getting back to my wife and the commercials, I responded as cheerfully as I could, “Well, my dear, somebody has to pay for our television viewing privilege.”

I felt a cold yet burning stare in my direction.

“Can’t they run those lousy commercials when I’m not watching TV?”

Someone once said that silence is Golden and right then I cultivated a golden moment. Read More→

Categories : Articles, Humor, Jill's Blog
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Running a small business takes a lot of work. Sure, your company might be small in size, but that means there are fewer people to take on all of the tasks that come with running a business. From accounting to marketing, you could find yourself wearing many different hats to ensure the day-to-day running of your business.

Fortunately, help is at hand for small business owners thanks to the wealth of online tools that can help save you time and money as well as make tricky business tasks easier. Get help for your company with the help of these six online tools that offer incredible value to your small business.

 

1. Accounting tools

Hiring an accountant for your business isn’t always feasible, especially while you’re still finding your feet. Even if you’re not particularly great with numbers, online accounting tools make it easy for you to manage your business’ finances and keep track of budgets, profits, etc. The best online accounting tools can even help you manage taxes and invoices, allowing all of your business’s finances to be managed in one place.

 

2. Scheduling tools

Keeping track of your employees’ schedules, payroll and annual leave can be tough when you don’t have an HR department to help. Scheduling tools are becoming more popular for businesses, particularly those in the retail or hospitality industries. Make sure your employees work their agreed shifts and keep schedules up to date with time clocks for small businesses that sync up with online tools for simpler management of your employees schedules. An effective system will help produce timesheets and more to help you feel more in control and not have to worry about inputting manual data to keep up to date.

 

3. Video conferencing

Do you work with remote employees? Then video conferencing tools could be just what your small business needs. Saving time, travel costs and helping employees work better together, video conferencing systems are changing the way meetings are held for more productive work environments, as well as being a better use of resources. There are plenty of free video conferencing facilities you can use to save costs for your small business, upgrading to more sophisticated systems as needed.

 

4. Project management tools

Find it difficult to stay on top of projects? With the help of online tools, it’s even easier to manage projects effectively and stay in control. The best online project management tools enable you to input tasks, attach documents, put deadlines and reminders in place while keeping everything in one secure location. Your small business can’t afford to waste time and money from losing information or falling behind on deadlines, so make sure you manage your projects more effectively using the tools that are available to you.

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Aug
06

Saving Money To Stay Home

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Usually when I write something having to do with working from home, it’s about how to create an income. However, making money isn’t the only necessary ingredient in the stay-at-home recipe. The flip side of the coin is making some sacrifices and finding ways to save money.

When my husband and I first made the decision that I would leave the corporate world in favor of working from home, we knew it was going to take more than just me finding a way to bring in money from home. The amount that I would be making was half – or maybe even less – than I made at my corporate job. We needed to find a way to make it on his Air Force salary and my very small financial contribution.

Get Rid Of Non-essentials

In order to cut out some of our living costs, we sold one of our cars and for the next several years I drove around a lovely (I use that term loosely) car that had been my grandmothers, we also changed out insurance compnay to insurancepartnership.org/motor-trade-insurance/ just because it was a little more affordable. It certainly wasn’t my dream car, but it got me around town and we also saved a LOT of money when the time came around to pay tax and licensing fees.

We also cut out cable and anything else that we could find in our budget that we could live without. It’s amazing what things we consider “essential” that truly aren’t.

Keep Things Simple

Another aspect of our life that received serious cutbacks was eating out. This was a hard adjustment for me at the time. When I worked full-time outside the home, it seemed easiest many nights to just stop and pick up supper on my way home. And once I began staying home every day, I still wanted the ease of fast food.

I wish I could tell you that I found a way to make that work, but of course that’s not the case. Instead I began working on my cooking skills and learning to make easy, simple meals that kept us within our food budget each month. Read More→

Aug
03

Relationships: the Key Factor to Your Branding Success

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DanaIn this Internet age, trends seem to rule the roost when it comes to building a work at home business. Everyone is searching for that “magic pill” that will bring them instant success with very little effort.

But this is an illusion. It is like the foolish man building on sand. A Christian work at home business needs to be built on solid ground. On timeless business principles.

Branding is one of these timeless principles. Branding is not a hot new trend, though sometimes it appears that way since so many more people are talking about it. Branding is just the expression of who you are as a business and what makes you unique.

And effective branding is built with relationships.

God values relationships highly. Can we treat relationships less as His representatives?

How are we called to treat people?

For me, the central principle is found in 1 Corinthians 13. Many years ago, I prayed that I would have this kind of love for people, for those whom I minister to. And now that I am a business owner, I am still guided by these ideals.

Because the business is not about me. It’s about God working through me to help others. The other night, I was working hard on a display board for a fair the next morning. The thought came to me, “Why do I work so hard? Why do I put myself under this much pressure?” Read More→

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Aug
01

3 Ways to Earn Customer Trust for Your Online Business

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Gaining the trust of prospects and continually working hard to retain current customers is one of the biggest challenges in business, particularly in the digital age; after all, people are so easily distracted and have so many options at their fingertips that it can be difficult to make a solid impression.

But there is some good news: Once you earn that trust, customer loyalty is attainable. In fact, studies show today’s consumers revel in forming an emotional connection with a brand and earning benefits from companies with which they identify.

For companies, this spells opportunity. The following tips represent the three biggest factors in earning customer trust. If you can do these things and do them well you’ll be well on your way to creating and maintaining a large customer base that will patronize your business again and again.

1. Be Great

The same reality that has always existed in business is no different in the online world. First and foremost, you need to provide a great product or service that’s better than the competition in an expedited manner. In other words, time is a-wastin’, so make sure to get your name out there quickly.

Companies that once skated by with a mediocre but rare offering in their market can no longer rely on geography to save them. Instead, your website and social media pages must show clearly, quickly and convincingly exactly how and why your product or service is the best choice. But speed and efficiency is the name of the game.

Truthfully, people aren’t willing to spend minutes at a time clicking aimlessly on your website to buy something or have their question answered. With that in mind, make it a point to reduce your differentiating qualities to a bite-sized explanation with good visuals in particular and disseminate that message over and over in as many places as possible.

Standing tall on what you do best is the greatest asset you have in landing new customers to take a chance on your business. Read More→

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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Jul
30

When Calling In Sick is Not An Option

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jill-new14feverThe phone was ringing and I couldn’t find the energy to answer it. I knew I should answer, needed to answer, but couldn’t summon the strength necessary. I’d been fighting the discouragement and frustration of a lingering illness for months and didn’t see any end in sight. Doctor’s said I’d see an improvement within six months of beginning this new medicine, but a month in and nothing felt different, in fact, I felt worse. I couldn’t imagine how my business was going to survive if something didn’t change soon.

Dealing with sickness as a mom is always challenging. When you add in the responsibilities of a business it can feel downright impossible. As I dealt with my health problems over the course of the last year, I’ve found a few ways to keep my business afloat while I’m healing.

Schedule your time in small chunks.
During the toughest weeks of my illness, I would set daily goals like “work for one hour” and “work on laundry.” By giving myself small goals like these I was almost always able to achieve them. It is amazing how crossing things off from my to-do list helped me to feel productive. My efficiency was a far cry from what it normally is, but I felt encouraged by these accomplishments.

It’s also imperative to schedule specific times to rest. Despite the fact that I was sick, I felt guilty for feeling so tired all of the time. By penciling in fifteen minutes or so at a time to rest, I was freed from the guilt. It became one more item to check off of my daily to-do list.

The extra benefit was that scheduling it in helped my three-year old to adjust to these short nap times. I would lay on the couch and rest and he would sit with me and watch a movie or play the Wii. This way I always knew where he was and he knew I was there for him if he needed me.

Outsource as much as possible.
My virtual assistant (VA), without even being aware of it, was crucial to me during this time. She was able to take on some of the tasks that I do on a regular basis. What a relief to know that I could count on her to do the things that HAD to be done. Even the weeks when I was at my lowest I knew the necessary tasks were taken care of.

If your kids are old enough you can “outsource” some additional chores to them while you’re healing. My six-year old was such a great source of hope and help to me. By helping me more than usual with tasks like laundry, vacuuming and even cooking (she can put crescent rolls on a cookie sheet better than any other six-year old I know), she felt like she was assisting in my recovery. So often our kids feel helpless, like there is no way that they can help us when we’re ill. This was a wonderful way for her to feel needed and helpful.

Let your family help.
During the months that I dealt with health problems, my family played a crucial role in keeping my business afloat. My husband would often take the kids out to dinner or simply outside to play, giving me time to rest and work if I felt up to it.

Grandma, too, comes in especially handy if she’s available and willing. Although, a neighbor or good friend may be willing to help out when needed.

Don’t take on too much.
Even when you’re feeling your best it’s important to learn the art of saying no. Know your limits and don’t go overboard – even with good activities. When you’re dealing with sickness, it’s imperative that you be honest with yourself about your limits. Don’t try to take on all that you would were you well.

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Jul
27

Loving Your Unlovable Spouse

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meT2gaeNow there’s a catchy title, huh? I’m sure no one has an unlovable spouse now, do they? Well, hopefully not, right? Because this is where the rubber meets the road in marriage: learning to give love, respect and grace to another human being when they are NOT particularly giving those things to me in return.

Let me ask you this question: Do you REACT or RESPOND when your husband acts unkind, or says something that really hurts you? I know I reacted (and usually quite strongly) in the first 10 years of my marriage. I was usually thinking about getting my “rights” or making sure he knew what I was thinking or feeling about whatever topic we were discussing. I’ve learned the hard way that my reactions are not good for anyone really! Not for my husband or sons. I’ve also learned that my responses can come from God: I can hit the PAUSE button and THINK first before saying something unkind in return. I think a lot of marital disagreements and fights would not even start if I learn to practice a godly response.

Perhaps you’re familiar with the passage in Scripture (Matthew 5) where it states, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, ….”. Jesus goes on to say, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” It is so easy to love when “I’m feeling it” or when you’re doing something I want you to do. But what do I do when that isn’t happening? Do I pout, get demanding, or sulk? Or do I talk it over with our God, who has both of our best interests in His Mind?

1 Peter 3:9: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” This can be so hard! This verse one ups it even more: I’m to bless the person who is hurting me! Ouch!

Talk about hard! Especially when my emotions are going full force (is there any other way ladies?) this will taken herculean effort on my part to go to Jesus, calm myself and respond in a way that honors God and the person.

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